Richard Dawkins to Honor Javed Akhtar for Secularism

London: Their work has inspired and enlightened millions of people around the world and across generations. Their passionate advocacy for reason and their unapologetic questioning of religion and superstition have broken taboos and changed the cultural landscape.

On October 24, these two champions of science and secularism will come together for the first time, as evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins presents writer, poet, and lyricist Javed Akhtar with the 2020 Richard Dawkins Award.

In a virtual ceremony hosted by Richard Dawkins from the UK and streamed live over Zoom, Javed Akhtar will formally accept the Richard Dawkins Award for 2020, followed by an extended, unscripted conversation between the two.

This 90-minute live event will take place on October 24, 2020 at 11am US Eastern Time (EDT), 4pm London (BST), and 8:30pm Mumbai (IST). Registration for this live-streamed event is $5.00(US), with tickets available at Online audience capacity will be limited.

“We are excited to honor such a distinguished luminary for his work challenging religion and promoting critical thinking, but this event means something even more,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. “It’s an opportunity to bring the wisdom and insight of both of these remarkable individuals to new audiences. Viewers in India will get to hear directly from Richard Dawkins, one of the world’s most famous and respected scientists and a leading voice for atheism, and western viewers will be introduced to the eloquence and courage of Javed Akhtar.”

Javed Akhtar has written some of India’s most popular and acclaimed films, earning multiple awards for screenplays and lyrics. As a poet and social commentator, Akhtar has advocated for education and equal rights for all, and called for the rejection of religious fundamentalism and superstition. He has been honored by his country with the prestigious Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri for “distinguished service of a high order,” and nominated to the Rajya Sabha of India’s Parliament.

WHAT: Presentation of the Richard Dawkins Award to Javed Akhtar, followed by a conversation between the honoree and Richard Dawkins.

WHEN: October 24 at 11:00 am US Eastern Time (EDT), 4:00 pm London (BST), and 8:30 pm Mumbai (IST).

WHERE: Live on Zoom. Tickets at

The Richard Dawkins Award is presented annually by the Center for Inquiry, home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, and given to a distinguished individual from the worlds of science, scholarship, education, or entertainment who publicly proclaims the values of secularism and rationalism, upholding scientific truth wherever it may lead. Previous winners include philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, Cosmos co-creator Ann Druyan, and actor and writer Stephen Fry. In 2019 the award was given to comedian and actor Ricky Gervais.

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism.

The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at